A newly released study analyzing statewide rates of childhood obesity pegs 18.4 percent of Cupertino's children, or roughly one in five, as overweight or obese.
As a county, 32.9 percent of Santa Clara kids are overweight or obese, just below the California average of 38 percent. Los Gatos has the lowest rate with 15.4 percent while Gilroy has the highest with 43.6 percent.
The study, put out by the UCLA Center for Health Policy Research and the California Center for Public Health Advocacy, looked at over 250 California cities with populations over 20,000.
Researchers assessed data gathered from the California Department of Education's 2010 Physical Fitness Reports (PFRs), looking at children in 5th, 7th and 9th grades. only has records available for 5th and 7th graders.
PFRs look at students' aerobic capacity, body composition, abdominal strength, trunk extension strength, upper body strength and flexibility.
Of the 2,109 CUSD 5th graders assessed in the PFRs, 15.1 percent fell into the high-risk category for body composition. This was only a slightly higher rate than the 2,002 CUSD 7th graders assessed, of whom 14.2 percent were deemed high-risk.
Students in both grades generally faired worst in flexibility. Nearly 40 percent of 5th graders were deemed at risk, while 31.1 percent of 7th graders were marked as needing improvement.
Overweight children, the study states, are defined as having a body mass index (BMI) between the 85th and 95th percentile on the 2000 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention sex-specific BMI-for-age growth charts.
Obesity is defined as having a BMI above the 95th percentile.
According to the study, rates of obesity have quadrupled for 6 to 11-year-olds in the last 30 years and three quarters of all overweight teens are likely to become obese adults.
Obesity is associated with chronic diseases such as Type 2 diabetes, coronary heart disease, osteoarthritis and breast, prostate and colon cancers.
The annual cost of obesity in the state of California, the study concludes, is $21 billion due to lost productivity and costs associated with health care.
The study's authors make several policy recommendations, including maintaining the requirement for annual physical fitness testing, mandating effective physical education, eliminating ads for unhealthy food and drinks targeted at young people and eliminating the sale and distribution of sweetened drinks and unhealthy foods.
"The epidemic of childhood obesity will not be solved by calling for individual behavior change alone," the study states. "To address this health crisis, state and local leaders must address the conditions in schools and communities that contribute to the epidemic and undermine parents' efforts to protect their children’s' health."